Digital technology in physiotherapy consultations: Problem-solving sequences and recruitments

(part of the forthcoming special issue “Understanding technology use in face-to-face interaction”, eds. F. Oloff & J. Råman)


  • Sara Keel HESAV
  • Anja Schmid HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland
  • Fabienne Keller HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland


etnometodologia, fysioterapeutti-potilas-vuorovaikutus, keskustelunanalyysi, mobiilisovellukset, ongelmanratkaisu, avun värvääminen


This contribution investigates consultations in which a physiotherapist compiles an exercise program on their computer that the patient can then use at home via a mobile application. It offers an analysis of moments in which physiotherapists encounter problems in locating a specific exercise and of the ways the interactants then achieve a solution. In day-to-day physiotherapy practice, problems with digital technology during the use of health applications or desktop computers occur often. Solving them is experienced as time-consuming and might cause perceived disruptions to workflows and interactions among professionals or between physiotherapists and patients. Adopting an Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (EMCA) approach, our contribution is based on recordings of real-life consultations. It tackles the ways in which problems with a mobile health application (hereafter: the app) are treated in situ and from a members’ point of view. Our analysis reveals that identifying and solving problems with the app involve recruitments, i.e., methods through which seeking or volunteering assistance and/or cooperation is achieved. More specifically, it shows that depending on the moments and the ways recruitments are deployed and organized in physiotherapist-patient interaction, solving problems with the app during consultations creates opportunities for patient participation and thus cooperation between physiotherapists and patients.



2023-10-18 — Päivitetty 2023-11-24